By Mark Bradbury
I was asked to do an article on Ecuadorian patriotism for the August issue of Hi Expat Magazine and even though I wasn’t sure what I was going to write about, I accepted the assignment. I have been wondering what I was going to say ever since!
I have been living here on the Coast for almost seven years, and one thing I have definitely seen is that Ecuadorians are fiercely proud of their national heroes and athletes. Even though there are so many political factions, so many different classes of people, and so many other things that make the country diverse, there is one thing that they all have in common; a love for Ecuador.
That love for their country is displayed throughout the land whenever there is a futbol game of national importance. When Team Ecuador dons the tricolor jersey, Ecuadorians come out by the thousands to jam every restaurant, bar, civic hall, or anywhere else that might be broadcasting the game. They are one for all and all for one in Ecuador! It is very impressive!
Our recent Olympic heroes get the same amount of attention. Bicyclists, weightlifters, wrestlers, race walkers, whatever; the people cheer them on. Prominent singers and performers draw a lot of support from the people as well. There is an outpouring of support for anyone or anything that represents Ecuador. But why?
Ecuador has been called the “Land of the Four Worlds.” It is made up of the Sierras, where most of the early Spanish colonization took place, the Coast, where I choose to live, the Amazon Basin, a world of its own, and Darwin’s favorite melting pot, the Galapagos Archipelago. Together, these regions unite to create one of the world’s most diverse countries. The irony is that Ecuador is a small country in size, but gigantic in its diversity.
Just like in nature, the people of Ecuador are as different as their natural surroundings. There are millions of people who have descended from early indigenous tribes scattered throughout the country. There are millions more who bear the bloodlines of the Spanish conquistadors and colonial settlers. And there are those who have descended from early African slaves, all who became part of our culture. Throw in some European and Asian colonists who also have carved their niche and you’ve got a tremendously eclectic population that form the 18-million-member group we call Ecuadorians.
And “National Pride” is seeded in each and every one of them! But where does this all start? I think it starts right in the cities, towns, pueblos, villages, and everywhere else they come together to live. I have seen local people get excited supporting the place they live, and their pride is evident. I remember living in Olon and every local person I met was so proud of their small town on the beach.
In Manta, there are so many ciudadelas, or small cities, within the larger canton, and every one of them is a source of pride for the people living there. They support everything that their neighborhoods are doing and show a lot of energy in doing so.
The cities and towns go to the next level and get behind the province they call home. Here in Manabi Province, the people embrace the idea of being Manabitas, and espouse their identity through food and drink. This province is known throughout the country as having some of the best food anywhere in Ecuador.
But when the bell rings, everyone is an Ecuadorian first!
When the Spanish Conquistadors came to Ecuador, the Inca Empire was established here. They eventually defeated the Incas and any other tribe that stood up against them, settling everywhere while taking whatever they wanted. Gold and silver left here on its way to Spain regularly.
Quito, the northern capital of the Inca Empire, was taken over by the Spanish, who built a new city over the remains of the old Incan settlement. Guayaquil developed into the hub for the ships leaving for Spain. These two large cities would eventually be home to some revolutionary ideas that would set Ecuador free from the yoke of Spanish dominance.
On the evening of August 9th, 1809, a group of local leaders met and formed a junta to replace the colonial government installed by the Spanish King. They went to the palace the next day and told the loyalist regime that they were no longer needed, and that they were being replaced by a local government. It would get ugly for all of them a few months later, and eventually most of them were killed by Spanish soldiers with bayonets while being held in the Royal prison.
This day, August 10th, 1809, is known as the “First Cry for Independence,” and even though it was not completely successful, it became the start of what would become a free Ecuador in 1822. This holiday is celebrated all over the country as the beginning of the war against Spain, and Ecuador’s people are extremely proud that their home was one of the earliest countries to declare their independence from the King of Spain.
That is why I think that the Ecuadorian people I have met here over the years love their country so much. They stood up to one of the superpowers in the world at the time, and eventually won their independence.
A small country and a small population, with huge pride in their home!
Raise the Tricolor! Viva Ecuador!